Long distance

Luke’s at work and texted me, “busted out my Falstaff score to see what info there is about the opera and found this” (from spring 2013 when we were both in Falstaff at different schools) and coincidentally, a few weeks ago I received a message from my friend, Claire, who’s currently studying at Colorado Boulder, informing me she found this note in her office desk (dated 2014). 

Note from Boulder

I remember visiting Luke when he was at Utah Festival Opera and one afternoon while he was in rehearsal, I hid 20 little notes around his room- in his laundry detergent, rolled up in socks, in between pages of books, between t-shirts in his closet, under his computer keyboard, all over the place so that when I left, he’d find little treats from me. We were in a distance relationship at the time and continued for three long years, while I was at IU and then MN Opera and he was in Colorado getting his doctorate. When I visited every 4 or 6 months, I would usually pepper his apartment with notes or post its, something of the sort.

This past year in Missouri has been the second time we’ve lived together for any consistent chunk of time. We were really good at being apart. Sunday was our date day/night as it was usually my day off from the opera. We would Skype and prepare the same meal for dinner, step by step through the recipe. It helped that Luke enjoyed cooking and is great at it so we would have a couple of hours cooking and joking around. Then we’d eat dinner together and video chat while watching a show or movie together. We’d count down “Three, two, one, go” (You click play on the “go”) and watch our programs. We watched very single season of Big Brother together. It is one of our favorite shows and since there are 545 episodes, it’s probably what has kept our relationship going because we are only allowed to watch it together. We still enjoy the show today; just finished the most recent season of Big Brother Canada. We started on Big Brother United Kingdom, but as the show format is pretty different, we are slow to adjust. I’m also kind of terrible at understanding accents and they don’t supply subtitles. 

Enough about Big Brother… back to what I was pondering this morning. Married two years. Together five and half. Distance sucked, but it kept things fresh and interesting when briefly in one another’s company and while apart, we had to work to feel close and connected- by making Sunday dates a priority, sleep FaceTiming so we could wake up together, budgeting for flights to visit every month or two. Being together, I’ve found that Luke and I are good with the day to day balances of life. Both of us are very conscious of the other and equally take on the household responsibilities. Most importantly, we express appreciation when someone does something like clean the cat litter or empty the dishwasher. What I’ve gotten bad at is the thoughtful, sweet things I used to do to feel close to Luke. Of course I feel close to him now, we live together, but I think it's easy to equate physical closeness with connection. The past couple months I’ve done a better job of bringing him back little surprises from my audition trips. My usual rule is that if I’m gone more than a week, I try to bring him something. My dad used to bring my sister’s and I gifts from his business trips and though it was rare for my mother to travel without us girls, she did the same. I always loved that- the knowledge that they thought of me while away and took the time to get something they thought I would like.  I want to do the same with Luke. On a recent trip to San Francisco, I saw a shop selling “I heart SF” paraphernalia and with SF being my initials, I bought him a t-shirt (further marking him as mine). I also brought him back a bagel from a Jewish bakery in Manhattan. It’s usually nothing big, but I know it makes him feel appreciated. I know that when I’m out of town, he’s taking care of everything around the house, making sure I come home to a clean apartment and usually a homemade meal. 

As of late, I haven’t done much of that. I think a lot of it comes from an outward mindset and actively asking yourself, “What can I do to make Luke’s day/life better?” and I tend to ask that question more when we're apart and the distance forces me to be creative expressing my love. Recently, I’ve been very self-focused. (I feel a need to defend myself because our society frowns upon “selfishness,” but the truth is that there are times when we need to take care of ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with it, in fact it’s healthy. So here’s a reminder to take time for you.) There are a lot of valid reasons for me needing some time to deal with personal stuff and in a relationship the tides of giving and taking change. Change is the only constant in life. But I’m thankful for awareness. Now I’m aware that there is an aspect of my relationship that I miss and I’ve got an idea of what I’m going to do for Luke.